Astros' Updated Starting Rotation, Payroll After Jake Odorizzi Contract

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 6, 2021

Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi delivers to a Kansas City Royals batter during the first inning of a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Orlin Wagner/Associated Press

The Houston Astros reportedly reached an agreement Saturday with free-agent starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi on a two-year contract with a player option for a third season, per ESPN's Jeff Passan.

Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported the deal carries a maximum value of $30 million over the first two years. Full details weren't released.

Here's a look at the Astros' projected starting rotation with the addition of Odorizzi, a signing made necessary when Framber Valdez suffered a finger injury that will sideline him indefinitely:

  • 1. Zack Greinke
  • 2. Lance McCullers Jr.
  • 3. Jake Odorizzi
  • 4. Jose Urquidy
  • 5. Cristian Javier

Odorizzi struggled across four starts in a 2020 season cut short by intercostal, chest and blister injuries. He posted a 6.59 ERA, though he retained a strong strikeout-to-walk ratio (12-to-3) in 13.2 innings.

The 30-year-old Illinois native was previously a highly reliable mid-rotation starter across six seasons with the Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays. He compiled a 3.88 ERA with 957 strikeouts in 991.2 innings across 182 starts from 2014 through 2019.

A first-round pick of the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2008 draft, the right-hander made his MLB debut with the Kansas City Royals in 2012.

Odorizzi should provide Houston with some rotation stability behind Greinke and McCullers. Along with the uncertainty about Valdez, the club is also without Justin Verlander for the foreseeable future after he underwent Tommy John surgery in late September.

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The Astros lineup, led by Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa and Michael Brantley, features no shortage of upside with multiple potential MVP candidates and seven players who could cross the 20-home run mark. It's a group with enough depth to carry the club if the rotation struggles.

Houston's luxury-tax payroll stood at $200.7 million before Odorizzi's signing, per FanGraphs. The Astros would pay a competitive balance tax if they exceed $210 million.

They likely want to stay below that figure, but Valdez's injury combined with the club's championship-level expectations put the front office in a difficult position.

Houston will open the regular season April 1 against the Oakland Athletics.